February 16: The Ash Wednesday Bushfires in Victoria and South Australia claim 75 victims
September 30 - City Council adopts recommendation to close Victoria Street to traffic through Victoria Square.
Prince Charles & Princess Diana visit NZ
Credit: Ch-Ch City Libraries
Mr Wattie (Walter David) Scott, an ardent supporter of trotting, died in Christchurch last week.
Mr Scott was a welder and registered electrician by trade, and on return from service as a sapper in the Middle East and Italy in World War II, he worked for the NZ Trotting Calendar for twenty five years up to 1972 when the publication was transferred from Christchurch to Wellington. He wrote under the pen name "Irvington". Mr Scott's brother, Karl, was editor of the Calendar during that time and Wattie was acting editor on a number of occasions.
As a youth, Mr Scott rode work at Wingatui for the late Charlie Gieseler, but later on became more interested in standardbreds, and at one time held a driver's licence, though he seldom used it.
Mr Scott's family have also been involved with racehorses, both thoroughbred and standardbred, over the years. His grandfather, the late David Milne, owned the winner of the inaugural Invercargill galloping cup. His father, the late William Scott, owned a horse named Ngareta who won a saddle trot, and Wattie himself also bred a winner in Simontor, a thoroughbred by Leighon, whom the Scott family stood at stud in the late 1930s and early 40s. A talented studmaster, Wattie also took care of Sandydale when he stood briefly at Scott's Stud. While there, Sandydale sired Sandfast, the dam of Johnny Globe. In more recent years, Wattie's brother Bill has bred and raced a number of good standardbred winners, including the c7 pacer Longfellow Deeds.
Mr Scott, who was 74, is survived by his wife Olive, and two daughters, Anne and Evelyn.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 6Sep83
ROD DE FILIPPI
Mr Rod De Filippi, who trained Cee Ar to win the 1974 Rowe Cup, died in Christchurch last week. He was 62.
Mr De Filippi, who was part owner of Cee Ar, first became associated with harness racing when living on the West Coast. One of the first horses he was associated with was McGimpy, who won five races including the 1957 Westport Cup.
He assisted West Coast trainer Charlie Murcott when he was training the champion trotter Ordeal on the Coast, and later enjoyed success with Eden Pal, Brother Eden, Idle Man, Bessie Brigade, Hiya and Command.
Mr De Filippi is survived by his wife and two sons, Mike and Colin, who are both now established as two of Canterbury's most successful trainer-drivers.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 11Oct83
COMPUTERISED BETTING INTRODUCED
Addington Raceway patrons took to trifectas like ducks to water when computerised betting came to the South Island last Saturday (9 July 1983). When betting figures for the day were tallied it was found that trifecta betting amounted to nearly one third of the total on-course turnover of $328,045.
The introduction of the pay-sell system to the South Island went off smoothly enough last Saturday - there was only one equipment malfunction - but the lack of problems was in no small part due to the small turnout of paying customers. Only 3800 turned out on a bleak, grey day and many of those departed the course when the rain set in after the seventh race.
The majority of punters adapted to the new system relatively quickly, and it was only early in the day, as punters and totalisator operators alike familiarised themselves with the new equipment, that delays occurred at the windows. Those punters unsure of the correct procedures could call on assistance from 20 hostesses spread around the course, who were quick to set them on the right course. Marilyn Hooper, who has been leading the hostess teams at the four courses coverted to the pay-sell system so far - Auckland, Tauranga, Rotorua and now Addington - described the change over as "terrific". "Christchurch set a national record - 40% of all bets placed were as a result of people using the betting slips," Marilyn said. "This figure hasn't been approached at any other courses where the system is in use."
The betting slip enables the punters to mark their bets which are then fed directly into the totalisator equipment, rather than the patron having to call his or her bets to the operator. Not only does it lead to speedier operation (provided the form is filled in correctly), but it also gives the patron a degree of privacy.
Problems and delays did occur early in the day when punters failed to follow the correct procedure when placing their bets verbally, failing to call the bets in the correct sequence. However, as totalisator operators became more proficient as the day progressed, this problem soon receded. "The operators did better than I thought they would, and by the end of the day most of them were pretty confident with their machines," Marilyn said. "One or two of the operators were a bit slow, and some of the punters were also slow. However, I feel the promotion during the week helped everyone familiarise themselves with the system," she said, referring to the 'dummy run' held at Addington last Wednesday night. There operators had a chance to practice for the real thing as invited guests bet on video replays with 'funny' money.
There was only one machinery malfunction during the day when the pay-sell equipmentwent out of action for 20 minutes after the fifth race. Initially, the club decided to put back the entire programme 20 minutes, but soon after announced that the sixth race start would be delayed only 10 minutes. The start of race seven was delayed only five minutes, and by race eight the programme was back on schedule.
The largest trifecta during the day paid $2019.35, one of four that returned successful punters a four figure dividend. The smallest trifecta paid $53.75.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 12Jul83
The New Brighton Trotting Club's Anzac Meeting on Monday will mark the introduction of electronic film timimg at Addington Raceway. The system has been developed in Invercargill by Jim Rogers and Bruce Gavin and is a refinement of the original equipment, which NZ Trotting Conference Secretary John Rowley presented a paper on at the World Trotting Conference in Rome two years ago.
The Invercargill Trotting Club was the first to use the system, but improvements over the years have seen the original equipment become virtually obsolete. The significant feature of Rogers and Gavin's equipment is that it enables them to record the time of every horse in the race, unlike other electronic systems in use throughout the world, which stop as soon as the winner's nose crosses the line. However, the system is nothing new to electronics, a similar one having been used at the Olympics for some 15 or 20 years. Indeed, it seems only a matter of time before electronic film timing is as widely accepted as manual timers have been for the last century.
The interest has been such that Rogers and Gavin have formed Race Finish Services, aside from their usual occupations. Rogers designs the cameras and generally look after the optics and developing of films, while Gavin specialises in the electronics. The system is basically a combination of photo finish filming and timing. For instance, in standing start events when the starter hits the lever, a high frequency signal is transmitted to a recording device in the photo finish box which triggers the electronic timer. The reflection of a digital timer is transposed on to the photofinish film and as each horse crosses the line, his individual time can be easily obtained.
For mobile events, a specially developed device throws a beam across the track at chest height at the starting point. The beam is light sensitive so as not to be triggered by the car or mobile barrier, and when broken by the horse's chest again activates the device in the same manner that pertains to the standing start, a signal is transmitted to commence the timing. Gavin initially discovered problems when using this device at night, the bright lights on the track causing irregularities, but this has since been solved.
Obviously, the main advantage of the system is its accuracy, a horse's time can be recorded down to 100th of a second, or less if necessary. In the past, where two horses have crossed the line within a nose of each other, in reality their time is the same down to one tenth of a second, but not to 100th of a second. The other main advantage is, of course, the accuracy of the placed horses' times as well. The equipment is easily portable and is available for rent rather than being purchased.
The possibilities for further improvements and variations are endless, depending on the needs of individual clubs. Added features, like a display board with the time progressing as the race in run, which would be of considerable interest in mobile mile, or time-trial events, would be pretty straightforward to install. Then that could be taken another step to display sectional times for the final 800 and 400 metres, etc. Similar systems are already widely used in Australia, America and Europe. At Harold Park in Sydney they've gone to the extent of setting up flashing lights at each quarter pole, a popular attraction for time-trial events. For example, if a horse is trailing to better 1:56, the lights flash at 29 second intervals.
Credit: Frank Marrion writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 19Apr83
Gordon Blaxall, a former president of the NZ Metropolitan Trotting Club and a former treasurer of the NZ Trotting Conference, died in Christchurch on January 1.
Mr Blaxall was a long serving member of the NZMTC and took his first administration role with the club when he was appointed publicity officer for the 1951 Inter-Dominion Championships at Addington. The following year he became a steward of the club, joined the club's committee in 1953, and was vice-president from 1965 to 1968. He took over the presidency in 1968 and held the post until 1974 when he was elected a life member of the club.
Elected to the NZ Trotting Conference executive in 1971, he was treasurer until he retired in 1982. During his time on the Conference executive, he attended two World Trotting Conferences at his own expense and was a delegate on the Inter-Dominion Trotting Council.
During his long association with harness racing, he only missed one NZ Cup at Addington through illness and only two Inter-Dominion Championships during that time. He was a member of the Owners, Trainers and Breeders Association for more than 30 years. He raced both standardbreds and thoroughbreds during his lifetime, but admitted to having "little success" as an owner.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 11Jan83
G B Noble's effort to top the trainers' list for the Dominion this season was a fitting reward for an association with trotting in this country which began in 1941 when he was appointed private trainer of the Roydon Lodge team. Of the record total this season of £28,361 15s won by Mr R A McKenzie, horses trained by Noble won around £23,000 of that amount.
Before coming to NZ, Noble had trained at Harold Park from 1918 to 1941. Besides being a horse trainer and reinsman, Noble is a qualified architect and a farrier of no mean ability. He had made a study of the horses foot and its footwear and it was this fact that weighed heavily in Noble's favour when in 1941 Mr J R McKenzie was seeking a private trainer.
Noble's early interest in trotting was through his father, a trainer, and it is more than 40 years since he drove his first winner, Elmo Chief, at Harold Park. In his early years of training at Roydon Lodge, Noble prepared the outstanding trotter Fantom, who won the Dominion Handicap at Addington and the Rowe Cup at Auckland twice.
One of Noble's best records is in the Oamaru Juvenile Stakes, a 2-year-old semi-classic, first run in 1941. He trained and drove Scottish Emperor to win the event in 1943 for Sir John and for the same owner won with Royal Minstrel in 1954. In 1956 he produced Golden Hero to win for Mr R A McKenzie and was successful for him again with Jar Ar in 1960. Two years later he drove Thunderboy to win the race at odds of more than 70 to 1.
With La Mignon (1954) and Golden Hero (1956), Noble won the NZ Sapling Stakes, driving both himself.
After the death of Sir John, Noble continued to train the Roydon Lodge team for Mr R A McKenzie. The establishment has produced some good winners, including two of the best mares to have raced in NZ, Arania and Samantha. Arania won nine races and £8960 in NZ. Her successes included the NZ Oaks, Dunedin Festival Cup and two heats of the 1961 Inter-Dominion series at Addington. She then went to America, where she ran a 1.57 mile against time - the third fastest of all time for a mare and just outside the world record time for a mare of 1.56¾, held jointly by Rosalind(T) and Her Ladyship(P). Arania did not race a great deal in the United States, but won six races and was 11 times placed for $45,400. Samantha, who, like Arania, was by U Scott, took a mile record of 2.01 4/5. She won 15 races, including the Wellington Cup twice, and £14,910.
As a driver, Noble has been associated with many of the winners he has trained, and has also met with success in the odd outside drive. He has more than 250 winning drives to his credit. This season he has driven 25 winners, his best total ever, placing him eighth on the drivers list. Asked who was the best horse he ever drove, Noble unhesitatingly plumped for Light Brigade, and one of his greatest earlier thrills in the Dominion was when he drove Bronze Eagle (trained by R B Berry), to win the NZ Cup in 1944.
NZ Trotting Calendar 14Jul65
George Noble, one of NZ's most capable and respected trainers over the past 40 years, died in Christchurch last Thursday at the age of 85 after a brief illness.
During a career which commenced in New Zealand in 1941, the former Australian trained and drove some of NZ's greatest pacers and trotters to win here, in Australia and in the United States. He was leading trainer in New Zealand on two occasions.
George, or "G B" as he was known to his great number of friends, was born in New South Wales, the son of a farmer who also raced standardbreds. George received his early education with the family horses and drove his first winner at the age of 18. However, he decided to follow a career as an architect and did so until the depression in 1930. He then decided to return to the world of harness racing, and in one of the toughest periods of Australian trotting, made a success of his new career.
He was among the top trainers in New South Wales when the late Sir John McKenzie chose him to take over the training and stud management at Roydon Lodge in Yaldhurst. It was a partnership which was to prove highly successful, as a string of champion racehorses went forth in the McKenzie colours to win many of the country's top races. Horses such as Red Emperor, Flight Command, Commander Scott, Royal Minstrel, La Mignon, Highland Air, Slipstream and Highland Kilt saw J R McKenzie head the owners' list on three occasions and following his death in August 1955, the success continued as his son Roy headed the owners' list on seven successive occasions. Scotch Paree, Golden Hero, Garcon Dór, General Frost, Valencia, Bonheur, Adioway, Jay Ar, Heatherloch, Samantha, Bewitched, Arania, Garcon Roux, Roydon Roux and Hurrania continued to keep George Noble and Roy McKenzie to the forefront.
When Roy decided to expand Roydon Lodge's stud activities and transferred the stud and training operation to Templeton in 1970, George Noble remained at the Yaldhurst property he had operated from so successfully. It was from here that George performed one of the training feats which will probably go unequalled in NZ harness racing history. In November 1976, he turned out the Australian-bred 4-year-old Stanley Rio to win the NZ Cup, took him to Auckland to win the NZ Messenger Championship in March 1977, the across the Tasman to win the Inter-Dominion Grand Final at Albion Park. Stanley Rio is the only 4-year-old ever to win such a demanding treble, and only a trainer of George's expertise could have programmed it. He raced the Tasmanian-bred pacer in partnership with his son John and Wayne Francis. The same year, he trained Rustic Zephyr to win the NZ Derby at Addington and was justly named 'Racing Personality of the Year' by the NZ Racing Writers' Association.
Few major NZ races escaped George Noble in his long and successful career, but he also made his mark in international competition. He won the Inter-Dominion Grand Final twice, deadheating in the 1965 event at Forbury Park (with Robin Dundee) with Roy McKenzie's Jay Ar whom he drove himself, then winning the 1977 event with Stanley Rio. He won the NZ Cup with Stanley Rio (1976), the Auckland Cup twice with Highland Air (1957) and Garcon Roux (1971), the Sapling Stakes twice with La Mignon (1954) and Golden Hero (1956), the Rowe Cup with Fantom (1943 & 1944), the NZ Juvenile Championship with General Frost (1968), the NZ Messenger with Stanley Rio (1977), the Great Northern Derby with Garcon Roux (1968) and Roydon Roux (1971), the Dominion Handicap with Fantom (1945), the NZ Derby with Royal Minstrel (1954) and Rustic Zephyr (1976), the NZ Trotting Stakes with Highland Kilt (1950), the NZ Oaks with Arania (1959), Bonnie Frost (1969)and Hurrania (1974), the NZ Futurity Stakes with General Frost (1968), Bonnie Frost (1970), Roydon Roux (1971) and Fabriani (1975), the NZ Sires' Produce with Garcon Roux (1968), the Timaru Nursery Stakes with Meadowmac (1963) and Garcon Roux (1968), the North Island Oaks with Bonnie Frost (1970), the NZ Golden Slipper Stakes with General Frost (1967) and Roydon Roux (1970), the Wellington Cup with Samantha (1962 & 1963).
George also campaigned successfully in Australia. He won the NSW Southern Cross Stakes at Harold Park in 1970 with Bonnie Frost and again in 1976 with Stanley Rio when the race was renamed the Prince Stakes, won the NSW Oaks - Victoria Oaks double with Bonnie Frost in 1970, the same year she took out the J L Raith Memorial at Harold Park, and won the NSW Derby and the R C Simpson Sprint at Harold Park in 1969.
Under his guidance, Garcon Roux became the first 3-year-old ever to better 2:00 in New Zealand when he time-trialled at Hutt Park in 1:59.6 while, when campaigned in the United States, his champion mare Arania narrowly missed becoming the then fastest mare in the world when she time-trialled in 1:57 at Lexington when driven by Bill Houghton. Only Her Ladyship (1:56 3/4), Dotties Pick (1:56.8) and the trotter Rosalind (1:56 3/4) had gone faster at the time.
Arania, one of NZ's best mares, was narrowly beaten in the sensational finish to the 1961 Inter-Dominion Grand Final, which saw Massacre, False Step and Arania locked together at the post. Arania and False Step then went to the United States for the 1961 International Series at Yonkers, and, though she performed dissappointingly during the series, she was to win at Roosevelt, and George also drove his Inter-Dominion winner Jay Ar to win at Santa Anita, California, in 2:01 and Garcon Dór to win on the same track in 1:59.
As a trainer, George Noble may have been equalled by few, but never bettered, and he earned the respect of everyone in the industry for his willingness to help others. He was, in every respect, a 'Gentleman' and harness racing is the poorer for his passing.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 28Jun83
When Nellie Boyns scraped together £25 to buy a standardbred filly named Loyal Bonny in 1935, she mainly wanted a hack to ride, but one who could be bred from later on. It was considered a lot of money at that time, more so for a young buyer who was working full time for only 25 shillings per week.
Loyal Bonny was offered to Nellie (now Mrs Nellie Winter) for lease and this seemed a better alternative to buying the filly outright. However, Nellie's parents were not keen for her to have Bonny Loyal and they told her if she wanted the filly she would have to buy her. Nellie suspects her parents thought she would not be able to raise the necessary finance for the purchase which would mean she would not get the filly, but they had underestimated their daughter's determination. Nellie raised £23 and her father, who must have decided the project was a worthwhile one after all, made up the rest.
Later on, Nellie decided to try Loyal Bonny as a racing proposition. However, when she was put in the cart it was discovered she had only been mouthed on one side. This made driving her difficult and Nellie decided to put the mare in foal. She was sent to Lusty Volo and left a chestnut colt, later named Lusty Volo. Nellie sold him for £200 and this was her start in the business of breeding and selling. "My father told me wise men breed horses for fools to race," she said. "That is why we never raced a horse until he was two years dead and gone." Loyal Bonny left 15 live foals and Nellie sold them all except for three fillies, Eskdale, Millom and Whitehaven.
The latest relative of Loyal Bonny to be sold was Bonny Cord, who was by Card Shark out of Bonny Cindy. Bonny Cindy was by Nevele Gourmet out of Whitehaven. Nellie said an American trainer bought Bonny Cord as a 21st birthday present for his daughter. Today, more than 45 years since she purchased Loyal Bonny, Nellie was reluctant to estimate how many horses she has bred, raced or sold, but there have been many top horses amongst them. "It has been a lifetime of work," she said simply. Suffice to say that horses like the top trotters Westland King and his son Stormy Morn, Uteena and her son Tuteena and the top pacers Lookaway, Speedy Lopez, Flying Dream and Gerry Junior, to name only a few, all have one thing in common; they all trace to Nellie Winter's £25 hack, Loyal Bonny.
Nellie said her father, Henry Walker Boyns, was born in Millom, Cumberland, in the north of England. He was educated at Whitehaven University and later taught at Leeds University. He came to NZ on holiday in 1905, but ended up staying here. "He met my mother walking down the street and married her three weeks later," Nellie said. Although her father had "mucked around with the odd galloper" and had bred draught horses, Nellie's initial interest in horses stemmed mainly from the need to have a reliable hack to ride. Horses provided the main source of transport in NZ during Nellie's school days and it was a seven mile ride to her school.
She said she was one of the first women to be issued with a trainer's licence in NZ, but the licence approval had not come easily. It took perseverance and seven years of applications and rejections before she was finally granted an amateur trainer's licence in July, 1971. The Trotting Conference licensing committee had given her many reasons over the years why she could not be licensed. One of the final reasons - that she did not own a racing sulky - was easily remedied and had the desired result of licence approval. However, Nellie soon discovered licence approval was only a small step towards recognition as a trainer and it was clear that there were many male trainers and drivers, as well as club officials, who felt she should not be licensed. "I had a job getting started - the drivers ganged up on me," she said.
It was difficult to get drivers for her horses. But Peter Toomey was one who suffered no aversions to driving for a woman trainer. He drove most of Nellie's horses in those early days, before the success of her horses, and the licensing of other woman trainers, gradually waned the opposition. Over the years, Nellie had received many compliments on her "marvellously mouthed" horses. Credit for the skillful mouthing work was due to Burke Roper, who went to school with Nellie's second husband, Henry Winter. Mr Roper later worked for Nellie and Henry when Nellie ran a dairy farm at New Brighton which had been bequeathed to her by her parents. "We were on town supply at New Brighton," Nellie said, "so the cows came first." In addition they also owned several butcher shops and Henry Winter was also a cattle dealer, but with Mr Roper's help there was still time for the horses.
Nellie said she had been a widow for 15 years and had moved to her present home, on an 86 acre property at Marshlands in Christchurch, when her New Brighton farmland was zoned residential about seven years ago. Although Nellie trains a small team, her stable is a busy one. The welcome mat is always out at the Winter stable. Several trainers work from her property and a number of young trainers had started out leasing boxes at her stable before moving on to their own properties. Nellie also grazes outside horses on the property which she said is ideally suited to horses. "My foals and yearlings tower head and shoulders above the rest that come here to graze," she said. She is also proud of her roomy 800 metre clay track. "Our horses never get leg problems here," she explained.
Nellie's most recent training success was with Isel (Loyal Bonny's great grandson) at the Cheviot meeting held at Addington on March 19. She also qualified yet another of Loyal Bonny's great grandson's in Bonny Fella at Addington a fortnight ago. At the Winter stable, all trainers of winners, qualifiers and horses sold are expected to provide cream cakes for everyone at morning tea, so Nellie had to provide two spreads in quick succession. The cream cake requirement was not too good for the various trainer's waistlines, Nellie said, but it was a pleasant way of celebrating success - and also very nice for visiting journalists.
Nellie will tell you her horses are "all pets" and when asked who is the best horse she has been associated with, she will not single out any one horse. But there is one, a yearling named Millom's Girl, whom she is particularly fond of at present. The youngster is a great granddaughter of Loyal Bonny. She is by Keystone Mutiny out of Flying Jill (Flying Song-Millom, by U Scott out of Loyal Bonny). Although she had already had an offer from an American buyer for Millom's Girl, Nellie said she planned to race the filly with a friend, Edith Savage, and they have high hopes for her.
Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 6Apr83
A little more than six years ago, Leicester Roper decided he was 'sick of horses' and thought sheep farming would make a pleasant change, so the Ropers moved from their 75 acre dairy farm/ training property at Greenpark to a 250 acre sheep farm at Sheffield.
In theory, the plan was fine, but in reality, Leicester now has more horses than ever. The Sheffield property was named Kia Ora when the Roper's purchased it and they have kept the Maori greeting as the official name for what has now become a busy standardbred stud - and current home for three stallions, Dryham Lea, Montini Bromac and Count Bay - as well as some sheep. Of the three stallions, last term, the newcomer, Montini Bromac, was bred to the most mares, 36, in what was a pleasing response to his first season at stud. The trotter Count Bay came next with 21 mares and Dryham Lea the longest serving of the trio, was bred with 20 mares.
Although Dryham Lea is currently in the limelight with his sons Beware and Logan Dryham, both winners at Addington last month, he has received only modest support from breeders during his ten years at stud, and Leicester estimated the horse had been bred with only about 150 mares during that time. Leicester said that Dryham Lea had been raced by a friend, Mr Lance Pearce, and that when the horse, who won five races during a brief track career, was retired from racing he was interested in getting some foals by him. Leicester and his wife Rona, a keen and efficient horsewoman, had often considered the possibility of running a standardbred stud, so when Lance Pearce offered them a long term lease on Dryham Lea for stud purposes, they were on their way. The possibility was transformed into reality.
Dryham Lea was their first encounter into the stud business and initiallly the support for him was not encouraging. In the early days, nobody paid much attention to the smart son of Lumber Dream and Meadow Jewel and most of Dryham Lea's mares came from 'just a few friends'. Leicester said that although the early negative comments and lack of support for Dryham Lea was disappointing, they always believed he would eventually make his mark as a stallion. He has now sired over 25 individual winners, and these include the tallented Australian performer Rough Lea, Classic Lea, Unaware, Logan Lea who reached c9 before being sold recently to a New York buyer, and the smart trotters Girl Lee (a sister to Rough Lea) and Senator Lea.
Leicester's interest in Dryham Lea stemmed from an earlier association with a filly named Golden Jewel, whom he trained and raced in partnership with Lance Pearce. Golden Jewel was by Garrison Hanover and was the first foal from Meadow Jewel. The partners won two races with Golden Jewel before selling her to North American interests as a 5-year-old. "She was a good little mare," Leicester recalled, and her ability created, for him, an interest in other foals from Meadow Jewel. But it was not until the early 1970s that Leicester had the opportunity to choose brtween two of Meadow Jewel's colts, False Idea and Dryham Lea, as stud propositions.
Both horses had proven themselves on the racetrack having won several races each in relatively brief race careers, so the decision was not easy. Leicester liked both stallions but Dryham Lea won over in the final analysis because he was 'such a lovely mannered, nice natured horse'. The Ropers felt if Dryham Lea could pass on his speed and ideal disposition to his stock, he would leave some fine racehorses - a theory which is now coming to fruition. "We always had faith in him," Rona said.
The road to success is not always an easy one for a NZ-bred stallion. Broodmare owners tended to "rush to American stallions", whereas the NZ stallion had to prove himself on the racetrack and then at stud before breeders took any notice, and even then often the support was not great. Leicester said support for Dryham Lea had always been best when one of his sons or daughters was racing well. That was particularly true when Leicester and Bob McArdle raced a smart 2-year-old, by Dryham Lea out of Winsome Queen, during the 1977-78 season. Named Even Chance, the youngster raced three times for for a third and a win, both at Addington, before being exported first to Australia and later to North America. Even Chance was trained in NZ by Reg Curtin who had also broken in his sire, Dryham Lea.
Leicester said he often attended racemeetings as a child with his father, and he won his first race with Merry Gold, a mare they raced in partnership. "I went to the races with my father to fill in time," he said. In those days, during the 1940s, the general public had unlimited access to the horse box area and this freedom of movement often encouraged children to ask trainers if they could have a ride on various horses before they raced. Leicester found a sympathetic trainer in the form of the late Cecil Donald. "I used to ride a big black horse Cecil trained, before his races. I would get sixpence for doing it and I thought I was made," Leicester said.
However, the chance to earn sixpence was not the only attraction at the races for small children in those days. Their sights were often set on richer prizes, and sugar bags were a standard part of raceday equipment, in pursuit of these. The children collected discarded totalisator tickets and, in defence of this seemingly futile exercise, Leicester indignantly claimed he found 'one or two' profitable tickets out of the many thousands he collected.
Leicester said the raceday outings with his father had probably given him the inspiration to own racehorses, but an uncle, the late Joe Washington, who raced the great mare Daphne d'Oro before Leicester was even born, had provided the "biggest influence" and the Ropers now use Joe's racing colours. Joe Washington trained and raced Daphne d'Oro on lease from her breeder, Mr J B Westerman, during the late 1920s and early 30s. During the 1927-28 season, Daphne d'Oro won six races and these included the Great Northern Derby and the New Zealand Derby. Leicester was given the winner's ribbons for both races, but unfortunately only the Great Northern Derby ribbon is recognisable and is almost like new. The NZ Derby ribbon is in tatters, literally, having succumbed to the rigours of time.
Leicester worked for Clarrie Rhodes, as private trainer, between 1954 and 1964. During this time and later, Peterson Lodge was considered to be one of the most modern and up to date training establishments in NZ. "The whole set-up was good," Leicester said. "It was a nice place to work and we had good horses to work with," he added. Leicester still considers Clarrie's 1957 NZ Cup winner, Lookaway, as the best horse he has handled. He broke in Lookaway, drove him in his first race win and travelled to America with the gelding later in his career.
Another of Clarrie's horses Leicester has vivid memories of is the smart trotter Mighty Brigade. He admitted he had "always had a fancy for a trotter", and "we thought he was a super little horse". But he recalled on day at the Banks Peninsula meeting in October, 1958, where he was subject to stipendiary disapproval after driving Mighty Brigade. Mighty Brigade raced twice that day for two close seconds. After the first race, Leicester was in trouble with the Stipendiary Stewards for alleged "undue use of the whip". He was subsequently warned, but after Mighty Brigade ran second again later in the day, Leicester was once more in trouble and this time he was fined £10 for undue use of the whip. Leicester maintained he had not hit Mighty Brigade, and was extremely unhappy with the stipendiary decision. His enthusiastic protestations were not received favourably, so he invited the stipendiary stewards to examine Mighty Brigade. Leicester felt an examination of the gelding would prove the injustice of the fine. An examination was later carried out by the club's veterinarian, and, although it did not have quite the desired effect, the fine was reduced and the charge changed from 'undue use of the whip' to 'the manner in which the whip was used'.
After ten years with Clarrie Rhodes, the Ropers moved to Greenpark where they ran a dairy farm, worked some horses and started Dryham Lea off at stud. From Greepark they moved to their present home at Sheffield. Life at Sheffield is busy, but the Ropers said they are fortunate to have an enthusiastic and capable worker in Stuart Thomas, who is also a neighbour, to help out. A professional junior reinsman, Stuart works for the Ropers and has done a lot of the work with Beware, a smart 3-year-old pacer by Dryham Lea out of Wairiri Leicester is currently traiing for Lance Pearce. Stuart has also driven Beware in two of his three wins.
Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in NZ Trotting Calendar 10May83
Dave Clarkson, who was named commentator of the century in 1974 and was a life member of the trotting Hall of Fame, died in Christchurch last week, aged 70, after a long illness.
He began commentating in 1937 at the Banks Peninsula Racing Club, and during a thirty-four-year career he became known for his distinctive style of commentaries at galloping and trotting meetings in the Canterbury region, and also at Trentham for a number of years.
Always a keen racing enthusiast, Mr Clarkson was involved in many areas of the racing industry, both professionally and privately. He was bloodstock manager for Pyne Gould Guiness Ltd in Christchurch for many years until he retired from the position about five years ago. Mr Clarkson was also an auctioneer at the Trentham Yearling Sale for about 25 years and he was instrumental in establishing the South Island bloodstock sale.
After his retirement from race commentating in 1971, Mr Clarkson served as judge for the Canterbury Jockey Club, after which he became a steward for the club and he was later elected an honorary steward. Also a racehorse owner, Mr Clarkson had a good deal of success with the smart galloper Just A Rebel, whom he raced in partnership with the Riccarton trainer Dave Kerr.
Mr Clarkson is survived by two sons.
NZ Trotting Calendar 5Sep45
"I'll pick them up for you as I see them walking round." Yes, its the voice of Dave Clarkson - a voice known to every owner of a radio who ever heard of a horse, from one end od the Dominion to the other. He even has his fans in Australia; he has been listened to with bated breath in Egypt, in Italy, Fiji and Trieste.
Recently the well known radio personality, Jack Maybury, managed to entice Dave Clarkson into the 3ZB studios for an interview. As was only to be expected when these two able 'men of the mike' got together, it was a very successful and very entertaining interview.
Jack Maybury started off by saying that the voice of racing commentator Dave Clarkson has at some time or other been listened to on every radio set in the land. "I feel justified in saying too," said Jacko, "that thousands of listeners, including this one, have repeatedly questioned,'How does he do it?' Well, Dave, I dont know whether, like the Society of Magicians, you are sworn to secrecy - are you? Good! How did you come to take up racing commentaries?"
Answer: Well, I just fluked it. I was drafting sheep with Mr Guy Nicoll one day for the late Mr Walter Parkinson at Kaituna, when the conversation turned to the question of securing a commentator for the Banks Peninsula Club. I listened to the various suggestions of those present and then when we were coming away said to Mr Parkinson,'How about me having a go at this racing business?' One thing led to another, the result being that I was given a start and did my first broadcast for the Banks Peninsula Club on October 20, 1937.
Question: It is not a full-time job with you?
A: No, it is not a full-time job. Actually I am an auctioneer and stock agent and am employed by Messrs H Matson and Co, of Christchurch, my headquarters being at Leeston, in the Ellesmere district.
Q: Having a sporting chief like Allan Matson, I presume, facilitates your fulfilling microphone engagements?
A: Yes, it does. Mr Allan Matson and his brother John, who are the principals of the firm, are very good and let me off just whenever I am wanted by the various racing and trotting clubs.
Q: Do you find the task a tedious one?
A: No, I do not. I Enjoy every race day.
Q: If the answer to this one is yes - you don't show it in your work - ever get nervous?
A: No. Never now. Although I must admit when I first started I was very nervous for the first few days.
Q: Now, let me see - does, say, a race as important as the NZ Cup impose a greater strain on you than does, well, an ordinary hack event?
A: Yes, it does a little. When you broadcast the NZ Cup it is usually relayed throughout the country, and when the technician in the box with you says 'Don't forget you are on a national hook-up' you think, well, here goes, and it has to be good.
Q: From an announcing point of view, which is the more difficult to commentate on - galloping or trotting?
A: Galloping is the harder, mainly because the tracks are further round in circumference and therefore the horses are further away. Added to this is the fact that the gallopers race in closer formation and travel faster.
Q: In the course of your duties, you are called upon to descibe races over all manner of distances - have you any special preference in this direction?
A: Yes, I have. If the track is a mile and a half in circumference, I prefer a mile and a half race, the reason being that the start is directly below you as you stand in the box, and you therefore have what you might call a proper sight of them as they leave the barrier. In the same way, if it is a mile and a quarter track, I prefer a race of that distance and so on. This can be easily understood when you think how hard it is to see them up at the six furlong barrier as at Riccarton and Trentham.
Q: Now Dave, heres's a thing that has most of us guessing - we go to the races and maybe in a field of 20 we back our particular fancy. I think I speak for a lot of sports when I say it's a ticklish job to pick up that one horse at the barrier, let alone follow his fortunes - good or bad - during the race. With you, well, as easy as falling off the preverbial log - you lay aside the racebook and with that now quite famous phrase,'I'll pick them up for you as I see them walking round'...you proceed to run through the entire field. Is it numerology, psychology, astrology, or just plain Clarksonology?
A: Well, now, that is a question I am often asked, and it is not so easy to answer. Firstly, you must have good binoculars and I am particularly proud of mine. Secondly, I have been brought up among horses all my life, and have a great love for them.
Q: Does it entail a great degree of initial study on your part?
A: When I first started I used to swot the colours up quite a bit, But now I never see them until the actual day of the races.
Q: I hope you don't consider me too inquisitive, and please don't think I have any designs on a racing commentator's job. I tried it once - yes - a draught horse derby in Hereford Street - only three starters too - believe me I had a headache for days afterwards. It is rumoured that a lot of people see pink elephants - do you see horses in your sleep?
A: Well, I am afraid I don't see horses in my sleep, and am lucky enough to be one of those who sleeps particularly soundly.
Q: How exactly do you follow the candidates through the progress of a race?
A: There are several small things that give us a clue to the various horses in the race, but the main item is the colours. You must know them from A to Z. Then some particular horse may have a white bridle or martingale on, or both. Another might be wearing a breast-
plate. Then one of the horses in the race may be grey and this is a wonderful help. Then in the trotting sport you get to know the crouch of the various drivers in the sulkies. They have their little pecularities in style which stand out to you. Can't you see at this moment the crouch of Dil Edwards, the way F J Smith holds his hands and the way Allan Holmes leans forward behind Gold Bar. Then in the galloping sport riders such as L J Ellis, W J Broughton and R J Mackie have a seat of their own that is hard to miss, and you couldn't help but pick up Arthur Didham with his long legs. All these points help to make the job a bit easier.
Q: When something comes out of the blue, as it were, is your judgement taxed?
A: Well, no, it is not. But knowing the colours and those smaller points you are able to pick out the horse 'that comes from the clouds' just as soon as it appears.
Q: Do adverse weather conditions make it very difficult?
A: Yes, they make a big difference. If it is a lovely fine day the horses are brought into the birdcage and the jockeys come out to mount with their colours up and you get a good look at them as they parade round. Then you get them set in the back of your mind. If it is a wet day the riders or drivers appear with their coats on, and go to the post like this, which means that you don't get a chance to get a look at the colours and freshen up your memory until about two minutes before the starter lets them go.
Q: When your engagements take you away from your home area, is it difficult to become acquainted with new horses?
A: Yes, it is rather. When I first went up to Trentham to act for the Wellington Racing Club, I found it was nearly like starting all over again. I had then to become acquainted with a big number of North Island horses, and learn their colours. Even now on each trip to Trentham I find that I come in contact with a good number of fresh horses on each visit.
Q: Do you really get as excited during the finish of a race as you appear to over the air?
A: Do I really get excited? I have been asked this question several times. Well, yes I do. The tougher the finish the better I like it. Nothing appeals more than a race with the pace on all the way and a head and head finish. I love to see them go.
"Again our grateful thanks for having made this broadcast possible," said Jacko in conclusion. "I feel I voice the sentiments of many thousands of listeners all over NZ in saying 'Thanks a million for the job you have done so well in the past." We appreciate you, and trust you may enjoy the very best of health to enable you to carry on the good work for many many years to come."
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar 16Aug83
One of the most familiar sights at Canterbury racetracks on raceday is the red-coated figure of Clarrie Williams, clerk of the course. In formal riding garb and sitting straight in the saddle, with riding crop in hand aboard a neatly groomed horse, Clarrie always maintains a dignified approach to the job he loves.
And after twenty-three years as clerk of the course for the three Addington clubs, Clarrie has no thoughts of giving it all up. Although he was a reluctant starter and was pushed into the job by his father, the late Maitland Williams, today, almost a quarter of a century after that first day on the job, Clarrie remains enthusiastic about the work, and he is now clerk of the course for 18 Canterbury trotting and galloping clubs.
A member of a large family - one of eight children - Clarrie's interest in horses was probably inevitable as it stemmed from a strong family involvement in horses of all shapes and sizes. Clarrie's parents ran a dairy farm at Belfast during the Depression, but horses were always an important part of the Williams family life. "Mum's father raced horses at Lancaster Park," Clarrie said. But Maitland Williams also raced horses, both thoroughbreds and standardbreds, as well as breaking in ponies. So it is not surprising to learn that Clarrie's love of horses is the main reason he has stayed in the job for so long.
"I like seeing good horses," Clarrie said simply. Although he has seen many great champions come and go over the years at Addington including Cardigan Bay, Lordship and, in more recent times, Robalan, Noodlum, Lord Module, No Response, Scotch Tar, Hands Down, Armalightand the current stars Our Mana and Derby, to name only a few, Clarrie has no particular favourites. "You see good horses, and you never forget them." he explained.
Clarrie spends 73 days of the year working at one meeting or another and several years ago he decided to relinquish a permanent job at the CFM freezing works at Belfast to accommodate this busy schedule of clerk activities. In recent years, on the days that he has not been working at racemeetings, Clarrie has been kept busy shoeing show jumpers and ponies around the North and Central Canterbury area. He steers clear of trotters because they are too complicated. Clarrie said that there is enough shoeing work in the areato work seven days a week "if you were silly enough", but his raceday commitments restrict his farrier work to something less than that.
All the Clubs racing at Addington now use two course clerks, but when Clarrie first began working there, back in May 1961, the clubs used only one, and it was not until the NZ Metropolitan Club held the 38th Inter-Dominion series in 1979 that another clerk was taken on to help. After the 1979 Inter-Dominion, the New Zealand Metropolitan club used two clerks for NZ Cup Day and Show Day, but Clarrie did all the other meetings alone up until Dave Ferriman was taken on to help out on a permanent basis three years ago.
It is their job to assemble the horses in the parade ring and follow them up to the birdcage, and then lead them out onto the track. "They are in our care till the start," Clarrie said. After the race the winner is escorted back to the birdcage to salute the judge and then the remaining horses are escorted back to the stable area. During the running of the race the clerk of the course is responsible for catching any riderless/driverless runaway horses. They must also attend any accident and keep the remaining runners clear of any accident if possible. But this does not always prove as easy as it sounds, and this was clearly emphasised at the recent Ashburton meeting when Ginger Milne fell soon after the start in the Rokeby Handicap. Unfortunately the fallen horse could not get up and had not been cleared from the track by the time the horses entered the back straight again. Clarrie warned the drivers to keep clear in a loud voice, which some course patrons claimed was heard right across the track and into the stand area. Most drivers followed his advice, but five took the inside route and in so doing gained a considerable advantage on the rest of the field. Three of the horses who were given the inside run subsequently finished first, second and third. Clarrie said that a member of the crash team restrained the fallen horse as the other horses were passing, in case it managed to get up. But, with horses running on both sides of the accident, it could have developed into an extremely dangerous situation. "We are just there to help, but I might as well not have been there when a few of the clever ones just ignored me," Clarrie said. "It was a silly thing to do and I didn't expect them to do it," he said.
Although Clarrie has many newsclippings describing various dramatic recoveries of riderless/driverless horses on raceday, he is reluctant to talk about that side of his work, mostly claiming that "it is mostly luck, and a good horse. You have got to have a horse you can trust." The first horse Clarrie used at Addington was a tall, fleet showjumper named Lofty, who could clear jumps of six feet four inches, a talent which helped earn him a place in the Canterbury Show Jumping Team and six South Island Champion Hunter awards. Named for his height, Lofty, who was also known as Alb by the Williams family, was 16.2 hands tall, which is not surprising considering his sire was one quarter draught horse and his dam was a thoroughbred.
Clarrie likes to keep two horses to use at racemeetings. This way, if one gets hurt or goes lame, he always has a horse capable of doing the job and, by keeping two horses available, the workload for each horse is reduced. Over the years, Clarrie has used several different horses on raceday, but they have all been geldings. "It's not that I have anything against mares," he said, "but there are too many colts and stallions these days."
Many of Clarrie's clerk of the course horses have become firm favourites with raceday crowds, and one gelding in particular, an unsound galloper named Dotterell, was especially popular. "People still ask about him. If there was a smash, he would take off on his own (to the crash site). He loved the job. He has a way of his own which is hard to explain, but he used to dance and show off in front of the crowd, and they loved him. We got him when he was three; we paid £16 for him at the Kirwee pony sale," Clarrie said.
However, he was not the only one of Clarrie's horses with an independent streak. Hogan, who was about sixth in the line of Williams' raceday horses, also had a mind of his own, and Clarrie recalls one day at the Methven trots when Hogan put on a show that sent Methven horseman Mac Miller into fits of laughter. Clarrie said that he saddled up Hogan, climbed aboard and was all set to ride off when the gelding just sat down, literally. "I must have had his girth strap a bit tight or something," Clarrie said, "but anyway he just decided he wasn't going to move." He remained in the saddle and the waiting game between the horse and the rider began. Eventually, Clarrie's patience won out and Hogan, tiring of the game, got up and moved off, still with Clarrie aboard, but not before Mac Miller happened to pass by the stable. Taking in the humorous sight of horse sitting crouched like a dog with a rider perched in the saddle, Mac "just about burst his sides laughing," Clarrie said.
Although Clarrie has had the pleasure of leading one of his own thoroughbreds back to the winner's circle, the way the rules stand at present, he will not get the chance to own and train a standardbred winner, because of his clerk of the course duties. "I can own, train and race a thoroughbred, but I can only own a standardbred mare if I sell her foals," Clarrie explained. Of all the thoroughbreds he has raced, he considers High Test, who ran second in the Brabazon Handicap at Riccarton earlier this year, to be the best. "But we had more fun with Country King," he said. Clarrie particularly enjoyed the success he achieved with Country King because "he was mad when we got him and people said we were wasting out time". But where others had failed, Clarrie succeeded in quietening Country King and he won two races with him in a row, at the 1978Grand National meeting ar Riccarton. However, he considers that Country King was unlucky not to have achieved his hat trick of wins at the meeting. He explained that one clerk of the course had to remain at the start at Riccarton in case a horse escapes from the starting gates. Clarrie was riding Governor General that day and he decided to attend the start himself, a decision he later regretted. When Clarrie arrived at the start with Governor General, Country King, who was in the starting gate, began gawking around looking at his mate. Bill Skelton, who was riding Country King, yelled out to Clarrie, telling him ti "get that horse out of it," however Clarrie had no choice but to remain close by and Country King was subsequently slow out of the gates and finished fifth.
Although the clerk of the course is supposed to try anf catch a horse who has escaped from the starting gates, the task is far from easy in that the galloper always has a head start, a considerable advantage in a short chase. Some trainers have asked him not to chase their horses if they should escape from the starting gates, because they feel chasing only makes the horse run harder and further. Clarrie is happy to oblige such requests, but he points out that at least two horses they have caught have gone on to win the race.
One escapee they did not catch, at Riccarton one year, got well and truly off the beaten track and ended up at the Yaldhurst Hotel, still with saddle, bridle and saddlecloth in place. There have been other instances where horses have ended up in odd places while remaining on the racecourse. Clarrie recalled one night at Addington when a horse had tried to duck out of the top gate on the track, heading for the stable area, and ended up under the water cart. "He knew where he was going, but we didn't."
All told, over 23 years at Addington, Clarrie has missed only four race days to date - three days off with a broken collarbone and one day off with a knee injury - and he has faced every type of weather imagineable. From hail and snow at Addingtonto a quagmire at the Ashburton gallops in 1977 when "Nobody believed they would hold a racemeeting. But they did and there was next to nobody there," he said. The conditions were so bad Clarrie had to catch two horses after the running of one race because they were "blinded with mud."
Most clubs now run ten races, two more thn when Clarrie first began working as clerk of the course. This often means a long day for the clerk - between five and five and a half hours in the saddle - and his horse. But Clarrie said that once the horses become familiar with the work they seem to enjoy it.
At the moment, he has three horses available to use for his work - all thoroughbreds. They are High Honour, Melody Morn and Mr Aybee. The former top galloper, Mr Aybee, is the most well known of the trio and Clarrie said the gelding is "an ideal horse for the job and lovely to ride." High Honour, who is still racing, is also ideally suited to the job, particularly at the night trots which often unsettle thoroughbreds for a while because of the unfamiliar surroundings of carts and lights. However, because High Honour is in racing trim, he tends to get "a bit full of himself" and is not beyond letting fly with his back heels at any unwary racehorses he feels might be getting too close. but they are only half hearted grizzles and Clarrie ensures there is no chance of connection.
Although his clerk of the course horses need only light exercise to keep them fit for the job, his racehorses (High Honour and High Test) are given a combination of road and beach work. Spencer Park beach is only six and a half miles from Clarrie's home at Clarkville and he is one of the many local trainers who work their horses on the beach. "It is beaut up there," Clarrie said, "somedays you feel like you could stay there all day."
Credit: Shelley Caldwell writing in NZ Trot Calendar 11Oct83
AUCKLAND - GAMMALITE
Three of the best standardbreds produced in Australia dominated the 1983 Inter Dominions in Auckland. Gammalite and Popular Alm quinelled the Pacers Final and Scotch Notch outstripped her rivals in the Trotters Final. Richard Brosnan, trainer of Bonnie’s Chance, one of the New Zealand favourites prior to the series, summed up the feeling of most of his compatriots when he said of Wondai's Mate "He's good and if that's their third best, god help us". The sentimental favourite Delightful Lady was third.
Former top trotter Spartan Prince was officially retired during the season after attempts had been made to get him back to the races. The Tuft gelding had been off the scene for a couple of seasons and hadn't raced since his 6-year-old days in the 1979-80 term.
As a young trotter Spartan Prince looked a potential champion winning five of six starts at two and posted NZ records for his age over 2000m (2:45.3) and 2600m (3:38.9), which still stand. At three he won four of seven starts, getting his third national record with a mobile 2600m in 3:29.6 at Addington in October, 1976, winning by seven lengths.
Trainer Doody Townley could not keep the gelding going long enough to have a crack at the NZ Trotting Stakes that year but, the following season, at four, the combination won four races to reach open class. Spartan Prince was unbeaten in three starts at the 1977 NZ Cup meeting, ran third in Ilsa Voss's Canterbury Park Winter Cup and took a mile record of 2:02.1 when second to Nigel Craig.
At five Spartan Prince won five more races and ran a gallant second to Scotch Tar in the Dominion Handicap, clocking 4:11.7. Earlier he had won the Worthy Queen in 2:39.3 beating Framalda.
Put up for auction at Addington in February, Spartan Prince was sold for a record $46,000 to Sir William Stevenson, who put the horse back in the care of Doody Townley. Unfortunately Sir William got precious little return for such an oytlay, managing only a couple of minor placings worth $1550 as a 6-year-old. It was a great shame as Spartan Prince was obviously a top trotter, beautifully balanced and virtually foolproof.
He goes into retirement having raced 39 times for 17 wins and 11 placings worth $34,405.
Credit: Dave Cannan: DB Trotting Annual 1983
1983 PAN AM MILE
Just how deperately unlucky Bonnie's Chance was not to have taken a prominent part in the finish to the Auckland Cup a week earlier was emphasised when she strode away to an easy win in the Pan Am Mile at Addington Raceway on Saturday.
She tore out of the mobile barrier and was two lengths clear after a few strides. Then she relaxed and coasted over the first half of the race in little worse than 1min. After that she applied the pressure and, without being asked for an effort, she passed the post four lengths and a half in front of Dundas and Quiet Win. She returned 1:57.6, her last 800m in 57.4s, to become the first horse to win the prestigious sprint for a second time.
Patrick O'Reilly jun, has now driven the outstanding daughter of Majestic Chance and Bonnie Countess on two occasions for decisive wins. His other drive behind her was last season when she won the New Brighton Cup. "She's just terrific," commented O'Reilly. "I was worried when she pulled fiercely in her preliminary, but she settled and raced kindly. Richard (her trainer, Richard Brosnan) told me to give her as easy a run as possible. I just let her make her own way round to the half-way point and let her run home from there. It was just no effort to her. I reckon she could have bettered her time by a second and a half if not more had I pushed her a bit early," he added.
Bonnie's Chance has now had 64 starts for 28 wins and 18 placings worth $308,620 for Mrs Bonnie McGarry, of Timaru, and Mrs Karen Grice of Invercargill. There is a chance she might race at Washdyke on March 2 before going back to Alexandra Park for the Benson and Hedges Inter-Dominion series. The two most experienced open class horses in the field, Dundas and Quiet Win, led the futile chase after Bonnie's Chance. Dundas came from four places back to cut Quiet Win, which tracked Bonnie's Chance, by a short length for second.
There was much criticism of the inclusion of Diamond Moose and Our Mana in the field, but they fully justified their places. Diamond Moose gave Robin Butt an awkward drive when he raced fiercely on the rails. He clipped a wheel of Quiet Win's sulky near the 900m and the latter dragged a punctured tyre from that point. He surged gamely over the final stages to take fourth and earn $950, a neck in front of the C6 horse, Our Mana, which paced a remarkable race, considering his lack of experience. He raced in the open for the whole mile and kept on fighting to the line.
Norton, from a wide draw, was well off the pace and he made up many lengths in the run home for sixth, with the others never in contention. The performance of Diamond Moose, Our Mana and Norton showed they will be among the top pacers next season.
Credit: G K Yule writing in The Press 21 Feb 1983
Sydney-trained Steel Jaw demonstrated just why he has been tagged the "Mittagong Mauler" in his home country when he eclipsed his nine rivals in the 1983 NZ Cup.
Steel Jaw, in the hands of trainer Norm Lang who trains the horse at Mittagong, some 100 kilometres south-west of Sydney, left the cream of New Zealand's pacers struggling in his wake as he coasted to the line nine and a half lengths clear of Camelot and Bonnie's Chance in the $100,000 Addington feature.
Steel Jaw set a race and New Zealand record in winning, running the 3200 metres in 4:05.3, a tick over a second better than Hands Down's record and five tenths of a second inside Delightful Lady's previous New Zealand best.
The celebrations surrounding the victory were quickly dampened, however, when Ossie Marr, part owner of Steel Jaw, overcome with the sensational success of his horse, collapsed shortly after the presentation. Quick action by the St John Ambulance brigade on course saved Mr Marr's condition from worsening and he was rushed into the intensive care unit of Christchurch Hospital.
Steel Jaw became the find of the early season in Australia when, after a change of ownership and trainer, he strung together 15 straight successes. Formerly owned and trained in Victoria, Steel Jaw was bought by Ossie Marr and life-time friend Stan Everett for only $5500 "including postage", said Mr Marr, meaning the transportation of the horse to Sydney. A novice class pacer (maiden) when purchased, Steel Jaw had recorded only a second and third in 11 outings. The sale was negotiated without either Mr Marr or Mr Everett seeing the horse. The two owners placed their trust in the judgement of a close friend, Peter Sandford, who had first brought the horse to their attention. It is a decision they have no regretted.
Steel Jaw is five. He is by the American import Gaviland from the unraced mare Ardeer and was bred by S G Harrison and Mrs M Maxwell of Leeton, New South Wales.
While Steel Jaw is a true Australian, he does have a slight New Zealand connection. His dam's sire, Danny Hanover, was bred in New Zealand.
He raced with distinction in and around Sydney and won a heat of the 1959 New South Wales Derby. He was by Smokey Hanover. Mr Marr and Mr Everett took charge of Steel Jaw in March and he started racing for them in May. Within four and a half months he was racing against the best pacers in Australia. He strung together 15 straight wins before the $1M pacer Gammilite broke his sequence at Harold Park late in September. Steel Jaw was only third that night - Willadios, a rival in last week's Cup - splitting the two. At his next start Steel Jaw faced up against Popular Alm at the grand opening of the new Albion Park complex. He was not disgraced in running second, after racing without a trail all the way, running his mile in just over 1:56.
Disaster nearly struck at his penultimate outing to the Cup when Steel Jaw was involved in a skirmish which saw him lose driver Norm Lang after 200 metres of a mile event at Harold Park on October 26. "I thought the trip was off when that happened," said Ossie Marr. "He's a clever horse, he clipped the gig and tipped Norm out, but, after going without a driver for a couple of hundred metres, pulled himself up and waited to be picked up by the clerk of the course." That Steel Jaw suffered on injury was apparent in his Cup victory.
Steel Jaw arrived in Christchurch last Thursday week, along with Willadios and Scotch Notch. He gave an indication of his ability when worked over 3200 metres on the Sunday prior to the Cup. That workout was completed in around 4:14 for the distance and the horse was then given barrier practice from a stand. In the 18 starts Steel Jaw has had from Norm Lang's stable, all have been mobiles and there was a train of thought that suggested the horse may not be capable of beginning with the field. At the pre-Cup dinner at Addington on Monday night, Norm Lang was asked whether the horse could improve on the time. "He could go a couple of seconds faster," was Lang's answer, which brought a round of laughter from the gathering.
Steel Jaw showed just how much he could improve on that time in the Cup. He was the best away from the start - Hands Down breaking with Camelot, and Our Mana was slow to find his feet after striking trouble. Steel Jaw led at the bell from Sun Seeker trailing, Hands Down without cover, Willadios three back, Derby one out one back, Enterprize, Camelot, Bonnie's Chance, Our Mana and Ben. Steel Jaw appeared to be pulling from the 1600 metres to the 600 but Norm Lang said after it was just "a very tight hold." When given his head, Steel Jaw raced away from his rivals and before the pair swung into line they had already established a winning break. It was increased as they ran to the line. "He went well all the way," said Lang after, "Hands Down tried to kick us along at the half way but I said "no way" to his driver when he asked for the lead."
There was no excuses for the beaten runners. Camelot provided the other feature of the race, coming from second last at the 500 metres for second. He lost ground at the start but driver Robin Butt said there was no way he could have won anyhow. If they hadn't brought him over we might have won the race," he added. Bonnie's Chance was a game third. She made up a good deal of ground over the final stages but was no match for the winner. Ben was a useful fourth, this time holding the placing - he was disqualified from a similar placing last year.
Our Mana and Derby were next home. Our Mana lost ground at the start. He made a brief run at the leaders 600 metres out but only battled in the straight, while Derby appeared to have every chance though he was hampered by the tiring Hands Down about 150 metres out. However, he was a beaten horse at that stage. Enterprise was seventh after having every chance. Hands Down was next. Peter Jones tried to wrest the lead from Steel Jaw after improving three wide at the 2300 metres. He was left without cover from that point on and was a beaten horse 400 metres out. Sun Seeker, after enjoying a perfect run in the trail, dropped out to beat to beat only the other Australian, Willadios, home. Brian Hancock, trainer-driver of Willadios, said he had no excuses. "We didn't seem to be going that fast," he said when noting the time. He added that he thought Steel Jaw was improving with every run and that he did not think the horse would be too far inferior to Popular Alm. "We Aussies got the quinella," he added, "first and last."
The day was a good one for Australia. As Ossie Marr said at the presentation, "You came over and pinched our Cup last week (Kiwi - Melbourne Cup), now we've come over and pinched your one."
Steel Jaw's success was of even more significance for Ossie Marr. Tuesday was his seventieth birthday and there is no better way to celebrate such an occasion than with victory in such a prestigious event as the NZ Cup. A retired grocer, Mr Marr has raced a few horses over the years. Elegant Jamie won 25 odd races for him and he also has a good pacer in Black Peter who won 10 races from Norm Lang's stable last season. He added that there was another horse, Dazzling Diamond, a three-year-old, ready to win more races in his colours as well.
Steel Jaw's other owner, Stan Everett, 50, could not make the trip because of business commitments. However, said Mr Marr, he was sure his partner would be over the moon with the news of the success. "I'm usually a $20 punter," said Mr Marr, "but this time I put $50 on him, so I suppose you could say we were a bit confident he could win."
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar
Constant pressure, applied for 1800 of the 2000 metres in the Benson & Hedges NZ Free-For-All, brought about the downfall of the NZ Cup winner Steel Jaw at Addington. This time rival drivers were awake to the talents of Steel Jaw, and set about putting the pressure on right from the start.
Driver Norm Lang sent Steel Jaw in search of the lead from an outside barrier draw, but Stampede, Bonnie's Chance and Our Mana all went with him, forcing the Australian to cut out the first 400 metres in 26 seconds. From then on, it was no rest as Enterprise and Bonnie's Chance re-applied pressure with a round to go, and kept it on through the first mile in 1:57.2.
In the meantime, Robin Butt, driver of New Zealand Cup runner-up Camelot, and Peter Jones, driver of beaten Cup favourite Hands Down, were biding their time. As Steel Jaw, Bonnie's Chance and Enterprise began to show signs of strain on the home turn, Camelot swept up wide with Hands Down on his outer. These two drew clear and settled down to a torrid battle, which Camelot won by a long head.
There was no more delighted man on the course than Camelot's owner, Dr Harry Crofts, who had travelled all the way from Saudi Arabia to see the Cup carnival. Though Friday's win was Camelot's eleventh win, it was the first time Harry had seen one of them. Camelot's main mission now is the $180,000 Auckland Cup in February, with possibly a tilt at the Adelaide Inter-Dominion to follow the same month.
Hands Down, showed all his old fight, was gallant in defeat, while Stortford Lodge, who only graduated to such exalted company with a win on Cup Day, fought on gamely for his third though over three lengths back. Northern visitor Ben made up a lot of ground for a close fourth after settling back, while Enterprise, trapped three wide for most of the way, fought on gallantly for fifth. Not surprisingly, the others who took part in the hectic early battle with Steel Jaw had little left at the finish, Our Mana finished seventh, Stampede eighth, Bonnie's Chance ninth and Steel Jaw tenth.
Norm Lang admitted to being a little disappointed with the Cup winner's run. "Yes, he was a bit disappointing, even though he was under such pressure all the way," he said.
Camelot paced the mobile 2000 metres in 2:27.2, a mile rate of 1:58.5.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar
1983 NZ OAKS
Preferred confirmed her ranking as the top three-year-old filly of the season, and possibly the best of her age, when she turned in an outstanding performance to win the $15,000 NZ Oaks. Though her winning margin at the post was only a head over the fast-closing Big Softie, Preferred had to call on all her class to win the feature.
In front soon after the start she was never given a rest at any stage. "There was something at her all the way," was driver Peter Jones' comment after dismounting from his second successive Oaks winner. Last year, he drove Hilarious Guest to an easy win in New Zealand record time - 3:20 - and on Monday Preferred was not far outside that, clocking 3:21.
The big, strong Boyden Hanover filly flies to Auckland to contest the Great Northern Derby. She will then remain in the north for the DB Flying Fillies' Final, C F McCarthy Stakes and the North Island Oaks. Leading northern driver Peter Wolfenden will drive Preferred in the fillies' events, but Peter Jones is behind her in the Great Northern Derby.
Preferred was bred by part-owner Wayne Francis, co-propietor with Bob McArdle of the Nevele R Stud, Prebbleton, where the winner's sire, Boyden Hanover, stands. Preferred is out of the U Scott mare Bright Highland and is trained at West Melton by Ian Shinn, whose brother Malcolm shares the ownership of the filly.
Big Softie, who joined Richard Brosnan's Kerrytown stable after finishing sixth in the Southland Oaks, was an unlucky second, being held up for a run from the 400 metres. Once clear in the straight, she flew home to take second only a head from the winner and four lengths clear of the second favourite Harvest Gold. Harvest Gold was trapped three wide early, but secured a trail after 1000 metres and was in the fourth line. She ran on well without looking like troubling the first two. Gateau, who sprinted up fast to challenge Preferred at the 900 metres and raced her as they drew four lengths clear passing the 400 metres,wilted to fourth a length and a half back when Preferred dashed away to a three length lead at the top of the straight. Tricotine fought on well for fifth ahead of Gold and Black, who came on from near the rear, and Best Seller.
Credit: Tont Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
The $50,000 Dominion Handicap had more of the ingredients of a three act play than a race for trotters, and the drama unfolded to a deafening roar from the audience as the leading lady, Scotch Notch, stole the show.
Act one occupied the first 1600 metres of the 3200 metre event as Basil Dean grabbed centre stage and the lead. Veteran Stormy Morn, the 1981 Dominion winner, was cast in a supporting role in act two as he made the first move, allowing the leading man, Sir Castleton, to tack on his back, tracked all the way by the Australian star. Basil Dean was still playing a major part under the direction of Kerry O'Reilly as he gave rein in the back straight the last time, and he looked like upstaging the two stars. But the real drama was yet to come and, like the best plays, only unfolded in the dying seconds.
First Sir Castleton stode front and centre stage as he swept forward from the 400 metres to challenge Basil Dean and bit players Tussle and About Now. To the crowds acclamation, Sir Castleton strode to the lead, but it was a short lived triumph. The last and climatic scene belonged to Scotch Notch. She strode past Sir Castleton in the last 50 metres as though he were just a stage hand. In just a few strides, Scotch Notch took the final curtain all on her own.
Though supported by a cast of only eight, which was quickly reduced to seven when Para's Star broke, Scotch Notch was dominant, so much so that she made even the highly rated Sir Castleton look second rate.
Though she was only required to trot the 3200 metres in 4:17, Scotch Notch turned in a sensational last 800 metres, being clocked at 56.6 as she came from seven lengths off the pace. Her last 1600 metres took just 2:01. "The harder they went, the happier I was," was Graeme Lang's comment after the event. "No, no worries at any stage. She's done really well this week, thanks to Colin," Graeme said. Scotch Notch spent the week prior to the race quartered at Colin De Filippi's Ladbrooks stables, where she recovered from the leg problems and started to eat properly.
Pat O'Reilly junior, the driver of Sir Castleton, had no excuses. "She was just too good," Pat said. "He trotted a bit roughly on the home turn, but it didn't make any difference. She would have beaten him whatever happened. I thought maybe I had her in the straight, but he just fell in a heap the last bit."
Pat's brother Kerry gave himself some chance when he held a handy lead at the 400 metres, "but they were just too fast," he said. Basil Dean was nearly two lengths in arrears of Sir Castleton, and only a nose in front of the honest little mare About Now, who tried hard to foot it with her younger rivals, but could not muster the same sprint. Tussle enjoyed the run of the race but showed only brief fight on the home turn before wilting to fifth, while the others were comprensively beaten.
Credit: Tony Williams writing in NZ Trotting Calendar
1983 NZ DERBY
The season's leading driver, Bob Cameron, took advantage of a dream run behind the pacemaker Borana to land Mighty Me home an upset winner of the $60,000 NZ Derby.
While Cameron and Mighty Me were receiving a run drivers dream of, warm favourite Lyndon Robert and his driver, Robert Dunn, were in all sorts of bother and eventually wound up fourth. Mighty Me, whose lead-up form had been disappointing, was given a mixed reception by the small crowd on his return to the birdcage, but this was not enough to dim the delight of owners Colin and Sylvia McLachlan and Bob Cameron.
For the season's premier three-year-old classic, the race could only be described as tame, with the nine contestants dawdling along for most of the journey and only sprinting home the last 800 metres. Mighty Me's winning time of 3:25.6 for the 2600 metres was a slow one considering the ideal conditions, though he paced his last 800 metres in slightly better than 58.8.
Purchased two years ago by Mrs McLachlan at the National Yearling Sales for only $2,300, the Out To Win-Believe Me (by Fallacy) gelding has now won $62,090, the result of seven wins and four placings from only 20 starts.
Cameron described Mighty Me's run throughout as "perfect" and added he was travelling so well at the 800 metres, he was confident of getting some of the money. He did not have to cover an inch of extra ground as pacemaker Borana eased off the fence under pressure in the run home, and it was this that helped Mighty Me hold out the fast finishing Glamour Chief by half a neck. Glamour Chief was three back on the rails for most of the way and sprinted home well to push Mighty Me to a close decision, with less than a length to tough stayer Borana who made a game attempt to lead all the way.
Up until the 400 metres, Robert Dunn had driven a copybook race on the favourite, easing him off the fence after 400 metres to enjoy a perfect trail on the outer behind Dunhill. But things went wrong approaching the 400 metres when Braedoon swept forward and trapped Lyndon Robert in a pocket - a pocket Dunn was unable to clear in spite of some desperate efforts. Lyndon Robert clipped the wheel of the tiring Dunhill approaching the straight entrance and broke, checking Steady Edition in the process and dropping back to last. Once balanced again, he came home strongly for fourth, but his chance was gone. Dunn was later suspended for careless driving.
Credit: NZ Trotting Calendar